On Wednesday nights, we have been studying all about Simon Peter. He was a disciple of Jesus and one of His closest friends. (Some say Jesus kept him close to keep him out of trouble.)
Each week I begin our story saying, “The Adventures of Simon Peter…” I draw it out each time so they will know it’s going to be exciting-and it has been! The first night, I asked if anyone knew what an adventure was. Everybody had a story! Several of the big kids were right on track. They said it was a trip or something you go on. I asked if an adventure would be something that was exciting. They all said “yes”. Then, I wanted to know if an adventure could sometimes be scary. They pondered and then decided, with hesitation, that it might be scary at times, too.
Our first lesson was about Jesus looking for helpers. He had a lot of work to do telling everyone about His Father. In reviewing each week, I ask, “For helpers, did Jesus pick bakers, or cowboys, or…” “Fishermen!” they yell at once. They love that Jesus picked smelly, dirty fishermen to be His best helpers. Now it’s a cool part of the story they remember the answer to, but when they’re older it will mean more. They will know that Jesus still chooses unlikely-and maybe smelly, dirty-people to follow Him.
When Simon Peter jumped out of the boat that day with his brother Andrew to follow Jesus, he had absolutely no clue all that would happen to him in the days and years to come.
Simon Peter had no idea that a few chapters later, he would jump out of another boat in a horrific storm. He would join Jesus who was walking on the water! And for just a minute…He walked on water, too! But, then he took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink. Our kiddies love that Jesus immediately grabbed Simon Peter’s hand. (It’s what the Bible says!) They practice reaching out to grab him, too.
Simon Peter did not know that a few more chapters later, he would be pressed to pay the temple tax. (Our picture Bible showed the tax collector with beady eyes.) Simon Peter went straight to Jesus. Before he even got to tell Him, Jesus already knew everything that was going on! “Go fishing,” He told Simon Peter. (Our children love that! They know if they need money, they go to their Moms and Dads-or a bank!) “Fishing?” I ask. Then they rush to tell me that Peter caught a fish and it had a four-drachma coin in it! Enough to pay his and Jesus’ temple tax! This is one of their favorite parts of the adventure we are on. We learned that we should always go to Jesus when we have a problem. He will provide for us; sometimes in crazy ways. Also, it was a really cool thing that Simon Peter had fished for a living. Fished for a living, I say! Never, not one time, had he ever caught a fish that had money in it! They all promise that the next time they go fishing they will look in every fish’s mouth to see if they can find money!
Last week, we talked about how dirty feet get when you go barefooted or wear sandals in the summer. They totally understood and, of course, the little ones wanted to take their shoes off right then to see if their feet were dirty. They found out that when Jesus was here the one who washed everybody’s feet was the lowest person in the household-usually a slave. I draped a towel around my waist-like Jesus did in the story-and then I pretend washed each one’s feet. They were perfectly still and listened to every word. They did get tickled when it was their turn and I dried their shoes with my towel. They were surprised when Simon Peter blurted out, “Oh, no! You can’t wash my feet!” to Jesus. (They are learning he might say anything.) Jesus was trying to teach the disciples-and us-a lesson about being kind and serving others.
This week, we will be studying about Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Our two year olds-second graders will learn that Simon Peter was there in the garden when Jesus was arrested. At first, he was very brave and whipped out his sword! He was ready to hurt someone over taking Jesus! Even cut off a guy’s ear! Trust me, we will downplay that part! Don’t want any acting it out at home with a butcher knife! Whew!
But just a bit later, Simon Peter ran away because he was scared to death! He would even lie and say he didn’t know Jesus! Our kiddies will be shocked that Simon Peter would even think of doing that after all he and Jesus had been through! He saw Jesus crucified and buried and then alive again a few days later! Woohoo!
By the end of our adventure, our children will know exactly what Jesus can do with a dirty, smelly fisherman! Sometimes he was really brave and sometimes he was really scared-just like us. Simon Peter went from catching fish to fishing for people. He became an awesome and very brave preacher that helped change the world!
Today, when we agree to follow Jesus, it begins our exciting and sometimes scary adventure, just like Simon Peter. We just have to have the courage to jump out of the boat!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.